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A Day in the Life of a Research Assistant

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This is part two of our Day in the Life of a Graduate Assistant series. Today, we’re featuring a research assistant. To learn more about the different types of assistantships Ball State offers, check out the other posts in this series. 


Name: Brian Kraus
Research Assistantship Position: Psychological Sciences Graduate Assistant
Hometown: Niskayuna, New York
Graduate Program & Anticipated Graduation Date: Clinical Psychology, May 2016

Brief description of what you do in your role: I design studies, analyze data, run subjects, and document the results. I’m involved in the entire research process. I work mainly with Dr. Simon-Dack and Dr. Holtgraves in the psychological sciences department. I work closely with both of them analyzing data and creating paradigms. With Dr. Simon-Dack, I work primarily with electroencephalography, or EEG, which registers electrical activity on the surface of the brain. Right now I primarily working on my thesis with her where I am going to look at differences in cortical activity when people perform creative vs. non-creative tasks and see how these differences relate to traits common in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. For Dr. Holtgraves, I am currently collaborating with Dr. Simon-Dack to measure EEG activity relating to the processing of scalar implicatures, or the idea that when a person uses the word “some” it implies that they are talking about “some but not all” when technically, the term “some” can be used correctly to mean “all”. We are measuring differences in responses depending on if the implicature is violated or not. I use the EEGLAB function in MATLAB to analyze this data along with Excel, SPSS, R, and SAS.

What’s one task you do every day? I’m usually either programming scripts or using scripts for programs that I’ve made already to analyze data. I do a lot more of that than I anticipated.

First thing you do when you wake up: Check my e-mail. Usually someone has e-mailed me needing an answer to something by the time I get up.

Typical breakfast: I usually don’t eat breakfast–it only slows me down.

Describe the rest of your morning: I try not to wake up before noon. But, after I get up I try to work for a few hours straight.

It’s 10 a.m.: what are you doing? Hopefully still sleeping– I usually work until 4 AM or so, so I like to sleep in when I can.


Go-to lunch: Jimmy Johns. It’s fast, it’s good, and I don’t even have to leave North Quad. In poorer times, a Pop-Tart is a good backup option.

How you beat an afternoon energy-slump: I don’t–I take frequent afternoon naps.

Favorite part of your day: It’s definitely getting home after going into work. It’s just nice to get home and be able to relax a little bit.


After-work routine: Usually after I get home from work, I take a break/nap and then do more work from home.

How you wind down at night: I usually end up working until the early morning and there’s not much to do then so I usually just like to listen to music or watch Adult Swim.

Last thing you do before you go to bed: Usually watch Adult Swim and laugh.

Thanks for sharing with us, Brian! 

If you’re starting a new graduate assistant position in the fall, be sure to join our Graduate Assistant webinar on Tuesday, July 14. You’ll learn about the expectations for a graduate assistant and have an opportunity to take part in a live Q&A with a panel of current graduate assistants. Register now.  


One thought on “A Day in the Life of a Research Assistant

  1. Pingback: A Day in the Life of a Teaching Assistant | Ball State Graduate School Blog

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